THE ROLE OF TRAIT AND SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS IN THE EXPERIENCE OF DYSMENORRHEA
Dysmenorrhea is the most common pain condition in reproductive-aged women and is characterized by pain during menstruation. Dysmenorrhea has far-reaching effects, such as increased psychological distress, increased relationship problems, reduced physical activity, and decreased sleep efficiency. It is the leading cause of absenteeism in this population. Though dysmenorrhea impacts many women and has such far-reaching effects, it has not been studied as extensively as other pain conditions, specifically regarding trait expectations and specific expectations. In other pain conditions, hope and optimism, the two most studied trait expectations, are protective factors for pain severity, interference, and the psychological effects of pain. Trait expectations additionally predict specific expectations, with hope predicting specific expectations related to the self, and optimism predicting specific expectations related to experiences. Both self- and experience-expectations predict outcomes, such as pain severity and pain tolerance. The current study sought to 1) examine the factor structure of specific expectations for dysmenorrhea; 2) examine the roles of trait and specific expectations in predicting dysmenorrhea; and 3) examine the roles of trait expectations and dysmenorrhea in predicting psychological adjustment. A longitudinal study of 389 menstruating women, over the age of 18, who could read and write English was conducted through CloudResearch. Confirmatory factor analysis and mixed latent- and measured-variable path analysis were used. Results indicated two distinct factors of specific expectations, pain-expectation and self- expectation. Hope predicted self-expectation, which predicted dysmenorrhea interference. Pain- expectation predicted dysmenorrhea severity and interference. Additionally, both hope and optimism predicted psychological adjustment. Dysmenorrhea interference predicted psychological distress. However, trait expectations did not predict dysmenorrhea. This study is the first to examine the associations among trait expectations, specific expectations, and dysmenorrhea and expands on the differences between dysmenorrhea and other pain conditions.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Psychological Sciences